Homeschool #009 – Jammies Days!

Granted, we’re only in “K/pre-K” and not quite as “busy” as many older h.schooled kids, but we’re sure enjoying one of our traditions from as far back as… 6 months ago! Jammie Mondays.

Mondays have become JAMMIES DAY and we love it! What better way to end a weekend and start a week than relaxing…

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reading lots of books…

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enjoy a nice, relaxing latte…

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playing a video game or two…

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(Ok, so Momma was playing SW Lego while the boys battled and played… I just HAD to finish those last few levels!!!)

doing a craft…

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(In case anyone’s wondering… that’s Tt’s gum. Painted. Oddly enough, that isn’t the first time chewed gum has been used in a craft ’round here.)

or two…

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having peaceful naps that AREN”T in a carseat…

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having an imaginary war or car race…

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or teaming up against some imaginary “bad guy” stuffies…

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Ahhhh, Jammies.

Momma even got a few things done (in her jammies!) – I completely reorganized the boys books and craft/drawing supplies…

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and my homeschool shelf!

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(We won’t get into the lack of 2008 scrapbooks sitting nearby. I’m totally behind for the first time EVER! It stresses me out to see this shelf.)

Jammie days are EXHAUSTING. 

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Homeschool #008 – READ.

It’s amazing how much one can learn from just reading… That said, we’ve done very little actual reading time around here. (YES< shocking, I know). Tt actually LOVES to read and look at books, especially if they have a. sharks or b. star wars characters in them. He’ll even turn away from a movie if someone sits to read a book with him.

So, for starting K this spring, our main (and pretty much ONLY) goal is to read.
We have plenty of books around, as Mom isn’t allowed in any of the libraries anymore due to, well, overdue books. I’ve decided it’s cheaper to go to Chapters than it is to pay all my fines…

Here is a list of some of what we’ve been reading lately:

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Tt enjoys anything to do with weapons, so we try to use it to read a bit further into Medieval times…

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This was one of our “curriculum” books from Sonlight. We always read it with an Atlas to see where we’re “visiting” with each story.

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We found a few of these “Frog + Toad” books on the Chapters bargain shelf. Tt loves them – they’re cute stories about friendships.

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I found a few of these books at Superstore, of all places. They go chapter by chapter in cartoon style through a classic story. We also bought Swiss Family Robinson – Tt seems to really enjoy both and I hope it’ll open the door to reading the “real” books one day when he’s older.

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Tt got this one for Cmas – it’s the kind of book that’s right up his alley. Lots of pictures and facts about all kinds of animals – including Sharks.

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I picked up a few of these at Costco once. Tt loves to look at all the pictures of battles, mummies, knights, vikings and his “new favorite” – the Colosseum in Italy! All kinds of things for boys to look at in these. And sooo educational ;-).

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This is another from the Sonlight “curriculum” that we’ve loved. Great poems on all kinds of silly things. I’ve heard since that there are more of these – we’ll have to find them.

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Then there are our dozens of readers… Backyardigans, Transformers, Star Wars, Kung Fu Panda, Wall-E, Madagascar 2, Lego knights – you name it, we’ve probably got at least one.

I’ve heard that to “keep up” with school Kindergarteners (?) and be “ready for Grade 1”, we need to read for 15 minutes a day. So far so good – and then some!

Happy reading!

Homeschool #007 – Field Trips?

One of the great things I’m anticipating about homeschooling is GREAT FIELDTRIPS. You just can’t beat learning something first hand, right there, at your touch. So I’m anticipating anyhow…

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One of the homeschool groups we’ve become a part of this year as we “try things out” has monthly field trips to all kinds of locales all over Vancouver. We’ve tried to attend two of them.

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Tried. And really pretty much failed. At some point, on both trips, Boo has had the urge to wander far, far away and Tt feeling left behind has ended up in tears. Although I’m sure Tt still got SOMETHING out of each trip, I’ve found it too stressful to go with Boo in hand.

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Even when we have gone to Museums, Art Galleries etc. on our own, it’s just useless to expect to spend some real deep one-on-one time with Tt, learning alongside him, with Boo on hand.

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We’ll try leaving him with Nana more when we’re out with groups, and see if we can keep trekking out on our own. Maybe I just need more practice ;-).

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This year we tackled:
– Vancouver Aquarium (membership)
– Science World (membership)
– Monterey Aquarium (holiday)
– San Fransisco Aquarium (holiday)
– Burnaby Wildlife Rescue
– Burnaby Heritage Museum
– Royal BC Museum
– Museums, sights in Italy

Homeschool #006 – Imagine…

Imagine a world where your Kid learns as much as “normal” kids in just 4 days a week for 2-3 hours a day, and gets to spend more time with his/her family. And have THREE day weekends (plus all the afternoons) left to PLAY, be outdoors, explore their city, meet new friends, join a team, read books! And in that world there is 1 ‘teacher’ to every Kid or two. And that ‘teacher’ has known your Kid since he/she was born – they know already if your child is a more visual learner, or a more verbal learner – if they like to see graphs or hear words or read to do their best learning – and gears all their learning to a style in which each Kid learns best. Your Kids ‘teacher’ even meets with other ‘teachers’ once or twice a week to talk about new learning ideas and methods, while all the kids play and interact together. Sounds good to me!

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Imagine this unbelievably wonderful and dedicated (and super hip) (and real pretty) (and… oh, I digress…) mom, I mean ‘teacher’, also gets just a little bit of time to herself… *Sigh*. Imagine. How do they all do it??! I suspect that not all homeschooling mom’s work, but what about those that do? Someone said recently that, as I’m starting homeschooling, I must “really love being around my kids”. I do. They’re super awesome, and fun, (somtimes stinky) (seriously, do boys just automatically get an extra “fart” gene???) and I love seeing lots of their little faces every day. I love seeing their faces light up every time they learn something new + exciting. But I also love me. And I love being by myself once in awhile. But when your kids are home soooo much (and they’re so small), finding one or two chunks of time throughout the week just doesn’t automatically happen. And I’m working less now w/ the 4th Kid, so I just couldn’t justify keeping a nanny any longer.

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Well, now I’m imagining a future where one night a week, as soon as Hubby gets home, I just LEAVE and don’t come back until the boys are in bed. Ahhhh. And I’m imagining in that future that every Saturday am I just lock myself in a room for 4 hours and catch up on my work. And, imagine, that another Mom in my shoes were to “kidswap” with us twice a week (once for her, once for us) so we can each have a break.

Imagine balance and harmony for all.
One day!

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Homeschool #005 – Curriculum??

Tt turns 5 in January, so eager beaver me thinks “we’re homeschooling – why wait until September to “DO” Kindergarten?”. Why, indeed. Except what does that mean?

Today I was talking to an ex-K/gr.1 teacher and she revealed how amazingly low the bar is set for kids in Kindergarten. The goals have to be easy in order to be achieveable by everyone. SO, I figure I can’t do worse than almost nothing! It took a lot of pressure off.

Not that I was feeling like I have to be SUPERTEACHER for my boys, but I don’t want to miss something critical and as a result mess them up for life before Grade 1 (every beginning homeschooler’s nightmare I’m sure).

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Now the question is WHAT to do for Kindergarten.
Most of the kids in one HS group we go to are “unschooled”, meaning they blow where the wind takes them. No, not quite. They feed off their kids own interests, which creates REAL (?) learning through a personal desire to learn something. Or something like that. I totally buy it. Makes a ton of sense, and as I’ve seen from Tt’s “learning” so far, sounds like he’s already on the right path (see previous Blog and Blog), and I really just need to stay the heck out of the way as much as possible.

“The task of the teacher is to create an environment
in which the student can learn”  – John Holt

Another HS group we have met with largely use “curriculum” from what I’ve gathered so far. They gather materials from places? (so far I’ve found this one – Sonlight) and actually teach their children, or as they get older, let their children even teach themselves. Not to say the kids’ interests aren’t taken into account at any given moment.

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Let me just say that so far homeschooling mom’s (haven’t yet met a homeschooling Dad) are intimidatingly intelligent. I don’t think one has to be uber-intelligent in order to begin homeschooling, but definately after revisiting everything (of importance) you ever learned in school again and again for each kid, I’m sure you must end up real real smart. I’m excited to one day be a real real smart mom. With better grammar.

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For Tt, I’m sure pure unschooling would be ideal – he is already learning better WITHOUT my input than WITH. If I had kept trying to make him color in coloring books, what I thought he SHOULD be learning, his natural ability to draw wouldn’t have surfaced until much later, long after his creative abilities had been squished by yours truly. BUT, for Momma… well, I need structure in order to feel comfortably able to be spontaneous.

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So, off to research curriculum for Kindergarten. Yes, I’m aware of how odd that sounds. 5-yr olds should be doing nothing but playing, right?

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My plan (I have oh, so many plans) is to do an hour of curriculum each day, and spend the rest of our time “unschooling” and playing the heck out of life. For Kindergarten, I’ve realized all that “Curriculum” really means is read, read, read. Help Tt recognize the sounds of letters, and read. We’ve ordered some books from Sonlight focused on reading about Cultures Around the World. And we’ll keep practicing writing our letters and numbers with our “Activity” (not “Work”) sheets.

I’ll let ya know how it goes.

Homeschool #004 – Handwriting

As we continue this homeschooling journey, there are the things I definately DO want to teach, things I definately DON’T want to teach, and then there are the things I may (or may not) already be teaching without even realizing it – somehow, them kids just LEARN !!

Going into this year I asked Tt “What would you like to learn about this year?” and he suggested he would like to learn about Knights (which naturally I took to also mean the entire Medieval era…). So I said “Oh, great! And how about this year you learn how to write out your name?”. No response. (which naturally I took to mean “Sure, Mom – sounds like a great idea!”).

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About 10 minutes later he brought me this piece of paper below and said “Like this, Momma?”.

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So, what am I even here for, again?

Wanting to keep him practicing, I’ve since been giving him “activity” sheets with letters, a cardboard cutout of each letter of the alphabet to decorate and so on, much to his “Awww, Mom, do I have to?” disdain. Any time I ask him to spell his name, all he writes is “Tt”, and if I ask him to write anything else, he’s simply not interested.

Not INTERESTED, however I have learned, does not in any way mean not CAPABLE. What I was missing was motivation. When he wanted some extra money in his tin bank for a toy, this was his crafty solution.

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(He tried switching his empty “SPEND” jar with his full “INVEST” jar).

I was so impressed with his wit, I bought him a toy.

A day in the Life…

One of the advantages I’m hoping for with homeschooling is more quality family time.

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Now to figure out what that means…

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For now, it’s just extra time to hang out together. Specifically, it’s extra time with Daddy.

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Since the boys don’t have to get up and rush out the door each morning, they can stay up a wee bit later in the evening to get some extra play time in w/ Daddy (and Momma, when I’m not working…).

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In the morning Daddy gets the boys up and feeds them breakfast while Momma sleeps in after staying up to late working. Or blogging. Ok, I admit it.

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We generally start our school “activities” at the table after breakfast, before there’s too much distraction by toys and videos and things to do. We try to get our activities, play groups, music, etc before Daddy gets home again.

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Ahhhh. The relaxed life. I’m lovin’ it.

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